She broke the record during the 7th edition of the competition which involved 43 students from 17 African countries. Many of the participants were eliminated early in the competition and only 19 made it to the second round where Nikuze emerged the third and only female to reach the final stage since the competition was launched seven years ago.
Nikuze is the first born and only girl of Saad Kananura and Fatuma Nikuze. She has four other siblings.
She completed her advanced studies in 2015, having done Mathematics, Physics and Geography (MPG), at Ecole Secondaire Scientifique Islamique in Nyamirambo but unfortunately she couldn’t continue her education due to lack of money.
The Sunday Times team visited the family last week to have a chat with Nikuze about her record as the best competitive female in this year’s Quran recital competition.
Upon entering their family house, one can easily see the various religious publications neatly placed on a small bookshelf. These are her daily reads.
Clad in a Hijab, Nikuze explained how at only 4 years, her parents encouraged her to study the Quran. She grew up with an ambition to change people’s perceptions that memorizing the over 600 hundred page book can be done only by men.
“Growing up I noticed that boys were the only ones that cared to study the Quran and I kept wondering why girls cannot study it too. I decided to study it. At the age of seven, I studied it whole heartedly and took part in small competitions at my school with the vision to compete at an international level,” she explained.
Nikuze reveals that her journey was not easy mainly because she did not have any female to look up to; instead she inspired herself because she wanted to change history.
“I did not have a role model or a woman I could look up to, most of the girls in my class gave up studying the Quran before they could go far. I did not give up until I memorized the entire book. I was confident, determined and I love the Quran,” she said.
Nikuze has participated in several competitions including an International Competition held last year in Dubai and she says memorizing the Quran helps her to live what it teaches such as love, unity and living in harmony with others.
“The Quran is a holy book for me and my life should be holy. My target is to teach and inspire other young girls that they can do better. The only key for them is to be confident,” she added.
Nikuze was awarded a motorcycle and Rwf 300,000 as the best Rwandan performer in the competition and the first female to reach that level.
Reacting to the awards, she said that the motorcycle will help her to generate income to pursue her university studies as well as solve personal problems.
“As a girl, there are primary needs that I will be able to afford without depending on my parents. I will be able to pursue my studies and I believe that the motorbike will help me to achieve my dreams,” she said.
Nikuze’s father, Kananura, expressed the family’s excitement over her milestone saying that he is happy for his daughter’s victory.
“Nikuze is my first born and the only girl. I encouraged her to dedicate enough time to reading the Quran and I am so glad that she has made it,” he said.
According to Sheikh Niyitanga Djamidu, the organizer of the competition, only 35 people across the country have so far memorized the Quran, while there are only 20% females in Quranic schools.
“Girls’ enrolment for Quran studies is still low. There is a challenge of mindsets and some parents discourage their daughters to enroll. There is a need to sensitize parents on the role of studying the Quran for females. Women can do everything when they are given the chance and inspired. Since 2011, Nikuze is the only female to compete with men from 17 countries,” Niyitanga said.
He further encouraged every girl to believe in themselves and dare because they are able to make everything possible.
He also called upon parents to support and encourage their daughters to study the Quran.
Source: The New Times, Rwanda